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June 2000

Technology Roadmap

By Gill Boyd


ATA / ATAPI Specs Ramp Up…

New ATA / ATAPI internal device connectivity momentum has started moving forward with wide-spread industry support. As hard drive capacities and speeds increase, so too, the need for faster more reliable device access. Going from EIDE UDMA/33 a.k.a. Ultra ATA/33, and our currently rewarding but probably brief stint with UDMA/66 a.k.a. Ultra ATA/66, we’re now poised for Quantum’s new soon-to-be-announced ATA/100 spec. According to Western Digital, Ultra ATA/66 drives require a Mother Board BIOS, chipset, or controller card; 40-pin, 80-conductor IDE cabling (which reduces crosstalk and improves signal integrity) and O/S DMA support. Ultra ATA/66 drives are also backward compatible with slower Ultra ATA/33 specs. Ultra ATA/66 doubles current Ultra ATA/33 burst data transfer rates to 66.6 MB/s (MegaBytes Per Second).

Note: IDE drive, Mother Board Bios and O/S barriers along the way have included 32 Meg Partitions, 528 MB, 2.1 GB, 4.2 GB, 8.4 GB & 32 GB storage capacity limitations. Where are we headed? If O/S’s support multi Terabyte partitions, does that answer your question? Defrag that!

By the time you read this, expect to see ATA/100 RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) availability! We suggest attending the HAL-PC June General Meeting for those details. You might be surprised at what you’ll learn – Promise!


On The Horizon, A New Storage Interface …

Our next major internal connectivity interface recently announced to the Press, Serial ATA, should cover us for the next 10 years. Microsoft has also announced support for Serial ATA at the recent WinHEC Event in future versions of Windows. Highlights of the Serial ATA working trade group initiative include initial speed transfers of 1.5 Gbps (GigaBits Per Second), scalable 2X and 4X. Expect a lower pin count and reduced voltage requirements. Expect Serial ATA to become our Primary storage interface inside PC’s. It’s not planned as an external peripheral interface. Serial ATA is destined to support all ATA and ATAPI devices, including CDs, DVDs, tape devices, high capacity removable media storage devices, zip drives, and CDRW’s. We can expect Serial ATA implementation by 2002.


Ultra ATA/66 Hard Drives & Controllers…

As hard drive capacities grow and prices fall, upgrades are becoming more affordable. For those of us growing weary with UDMA/33 – Ultra ATA/33 drive performance, newer and more reasonably priced Ultra ATA/66 hard drives and controllers give PC’s back that new faster PC feel!

When shopping for Ultra ATA/66 hard drives, look for 7200 RPM. Why settle for older 5400 RPM drives? In technology jumps, get your best bang for the buck offered!

Best of class from Maxtor’s affordably priced ATA/66, 7200 RPM hard drives include 20, 30 and 40 Gig drives. Easy install and format on ASUS M/B with Intel 820 chipset. Our only installation caveat showed up on a Promise Controller built on to the GigaByte Dual Bios GA-BX2000+ M/B with Intel 440 BX chipset. Maxtor’s quick installation MaxBlast/MaxBlast Plus software reads only primary & secondary controllers. It will not read a 3rd party controller like a Promise controller. Bummer, since formatting now takes longer than loading the O/S! A 10 Gig partition on an ATA/66, 7200 RPM, 30 Gig HD took 13 min to load Win98 SE with default install selections. Nine minutes of that was user intervention!

When upgrading hard drives, you’ll probably need either a new M/B or PCI controller card to handle everything correctly. Expect a very Special Offer from Promise Technology for HAL-PC Members at the June HAL-PC General Meeting! According to Maxtor, there’s a 32 Gig Bios limitation with M/B BIOS prior to 6/1/1999. Drives of this capacity (32 Gig +) are also not supported in any version of Windows 95. Kicking and screaming, it may be time to upgrade!

A new Promise Technology ATA/66 Controller card will overcome the M/B Bios limitations with its own on-board Bios ASIC. BTW: Rumor has it Maxtor may have an 8500 RPM, 58 Gig HD coming soon! Could be ATA/66. Most likely expect ATA/100. We’ll see and let you know! Now how fast did you say you could type?


Athlon(TM) Chipset Of Choice…

Chipsets rule, whether on a sound card, video card or motherboard. Every good processor requires a great chipset! For the new AMD Athlon CPU, we first embraced the AMD 740 chipset. Now our sites are set on Via Technologies Via Apollo KX133 chipset. Expect AMD’s next generation chipset to leap frog over Via and so forth. Interesting to note, Via Technologies, a subsidiary of FIC (motherboard manufacturer) may prove to be a greater thorn in the side of Intel than AMD ever was. Chipset maker, Via recently purchased Cyrix and now owns S3 video chipset technology. On another note, Intel has had difficulty supplying PIII CPUs for PC system builders, not so for AMD!


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Web Development, Gill Boyd & Team - Published & Posted For June 2000; Revised on BuildOrBuy News Archive 01/17/2004